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Gulf Breeze, Florida

At the end of the Fairpoint Peninsula on the western Florida Panhandle and just south of Pensacola, idyllic Gulf Breeze has water on three sides and the Naval Live Oaks Preserve, part of the Gulf Islands National Seashore, to its east. The white, sugar sand beaches and azure waters of Pensacola Beach are across Pensacola Bay via the Pensacola Beach Road.

Tourists come for the picture postcard beaches but also for the Gulf Breeze Zoo, which has 800 ostriches, rhinos, wildebeests, gorillas, zebras and other critters roaming across its dozens of free-range acres. An elevated observation boardwalk makes spotting zoo residents easier.

More than half of Gulf Breeze's land is devoted to parks and other green spaces. Shoreline Park South has a boat ramp, a fishing pier and swimming area. Beautiful Tiger Point Golf Club boasts water views. Nearby Deadman's Island, only accessible by boat, is open for paddleboarding, crabbing, and kayaking. Migratory birds love it, too.

Cost of Living

Gulf Breeze has an overall cost of living that is 12% above the national average.

The median household income is $92,312.

Real Estate

The median home price is $415,000. This is a 21% increase over the previous year. For comparison, the national median home price is currently $363,000 (Realtor).

Estimates are that Gulf Breeze real estate prices will increase by 6% over the next year.

The median rental price is $1,275 per month.


Gulf Breeze has 6,700 residents. The population has grown by 6% within the last decade.

The median age is 46. For comparison, the median age of the U.S. population is 38.

Gulf Breeze Hospital is the medical facility.

The crime rate is below the national average.


The combined sales tax rate is 7%.

Florida does not tax Social Security benefits or any other retirememt income.

Florida's property tax homestead exemption reduces the assessed value of a home by $50,000, so a residence that is actually worth $100,000 is only taxed on $50,000. Residents age 65 and older who meet certain income limits may receive an extra homestead exemption of up to $50,000.

The average effective property tax rate (the annual tax payment as a percentage of median home value) in Gulf Breeze is .73%. The annual taxes on a $415,000 home are approximately $3,030, without a homestead exemption.

Mortgages for Retirees

As people live longer and mortgage rates are at historic lows, more and more retired folks are considering obtaining a mortgage rather than paying cash for a new home. You are never "too old" to get a mortgage, thanks to the Equal Opportunity Credit Act, as long as you have the means to do so.

Having said that, retirees face some unique challenges when it comes to qualifying for a mortgage. Most mortgage lenders will look at the same criteria as they would for a young first time homebuyer, including your credit history, debt to income ratio and monthly income. The good news is that Social Security benefits and distributions from 401(k)s, IRAs, and other retirement accounts count as income.

However, because retirement accounts become depleted over time they have a defined expiration date. As a result, a mortgage lender will want to know that the distribution income will continue for at least three years after the date of the mortgage application.

It is also important to keep in mind that if your retirement accounts consist of stocks, bonds, or mutual funds or other "volitle" investments, mortgage lenders will only use 70% of the value in the retirement accounts to determine your mortgage qualifcation.

And while Social Security counts as income, if you are drawing on a family member’s record, such as survivor benefits or spousal benefits, then the income must be documented as payable for at least three years from the mortgage application date.

If you cannot qualify for a traditional mortgage, then a reverse mortgage might be an option. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac also have programs that can make home buying easier. Check with a reverse mortgage lender or these goverment agencies to see loans and programs available to you.



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